The Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars met at the Bridgestone Arena, and if this is a preview of the conference rivalry these two teams will have after re-alignment, the intensity will be off the charts.
The Predators won a wild affair in overtime by a 5-4 margin.
The game featured several fights, chipiness, and overall animosity between the two teams.
Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators, and 3 of the 4 goals scored by the Stars were goals where Rinne didn’t get much help.
Christopher Nilstorp was in net for the Stars, and he had a rough night as well.
The Predators opened the scoring at 14:43 of the first period as Sergei Kostitsyn dug a puck out of the corner a got the puck to Rich Clune. Clune got the puck and quickly got the puck out of the opposite corner to Craig Smith, who was cruising down the slot. Smith re-directed the puck the puck past Nilstorp to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.
Neither team tallied again, and the Predators held a 8-6 shot advantage in a period that saw both teams probing the defense and trying to establish their offense.
That would change in a wild second period that saw numerous penalties handed out against both teams. The Stars tied the game a 1 at 1:20 of the second period as David Legwand lost coverage and Matt Fraser was left alone in the face off circle. His shot went past a screened Rinne and gave momentum back to the Stars.
Just 15 seconds later, the Stars took a 2-1 lead as Reilly Smith abused Scott Hannan to get free in front of the net and was able to chip the puck over the pad of Rinne at 1:35 of the second.
Roman Josi would tie the game at 2 at 3:10 of the period as his blast from the blue line beat Nilstorp through traffic.
With Marty Erat in the box for holding, Mike Fisher took a double minor for high sticking on the penalty kill. The Predators got Erat out of the box, but with 2:08 left on Fisher’s penalty, Vernon Fiddler beat Rinne cleanly with a slap shot from just inside the face off circle to make it 3-2 Stars at 7:29 of the second.
With the Stars still on the power play, Loui Eriksson beat Rinne at 9:21 of the second to make it 4-2.
The game was quickly getting out of hand for the Predators, but they got a 5 on 3 power play as Eric Nystrom fought Brandon Yip and was also called for unsportsmanlike conduct at 11:45. Vernon Fiddler got a double minor for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct at 12:24. The Predators made the Stars pay as Patric Hornqvist got his second goal of the year, corralling the puck at the side of the crease and flipping it over the shoulder of Nilstorp to make it 4-3 at 13:43 of the second period.
Shea Weber was cut with a high stick, however, the officials deemed it was from the stick of one of his teammates. That was questionable, but the fact was that it angered Weber, and he went into beast mode and delivered some booming checks that seemed to energize the Predators.
Dallas out shot the Predators 13-10 in the second period.
In the third period, Mike Fisher took the puck on a rush and split two Stars defenders and beat Nilstorp with a backhand at 8:33 to tie the game at 4.
There was no more scoring in the period, but the Predators choked off the Stars offensive attack and peppered Nilstorp with shots. The Predators had 12 shots on net in the third period to 5 for the Stars.
The overtime lasted all of 28 seconds as Roman Josi wired a shot from the blue line over the shoulder of Nilstorp to give the Predators a much needed win.
Roman Josi is quickly growing into a very solid blueliner. This was his first multi-point game, and he has shown adroitness in handling the puck as well as making good decisions. It bodes well for the Predators that he is beginning to score. My prediction: Josi will quickly make Predators fans forget about the departed duplicitous Ryan Suter.
As good as Josi was tonight, Scott Hannan had a miserable game. Hannan was beaten badly by Reilly Smith for a goal, and he didn’t look as confident or solid as he has in past games. This may have been due to playing with a new defense partner- Ryan Ellis, but for whatever reason, it was not his best effort.
Good to see Fisher get on the score sheet, and he was scrapping and feisty. The Predators have to have this kind of effort and production from Fisher.
Marty Erat had an assist, but his offensive effort has been non-existent in recent games. Marty did not register a shot on goal and has not been an offensive threat for a while. The Predators have to have production, creativity, and shots from Erat. Right now, this is not happening.
This was a much needed win for the Predators before they head out for a West coast road swing. Scoring five goals should- hopefully- give the boys some confidence.
They will need it.
The road will not be easy.
My three stars:
1. Roman Josi
2. Michael Ryder
About the Author: A native Nashvillian that grew up with minor league hockey, I'm now a devoted Predators fan and NHL follower. I have had the privilege of allowing my children to grow up watching the Predators and seeing the joy on their face when they are at a game. By day, I am a partner in an independent investment management company in the Nashville area. I played collegiate football and graduated from the University of South Carolina and graduated from the LSU graduate School of Banking. So yes, there are real true southern hockey fans in these non-traditional markets.